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Surfiction is a metafiction literary movement necessarily emerging out of a postmodernist environment. The movement was originally established by critic and theorist Raymond Federman in his essay, Surfiction—Four Propositions in Form of An Introduction (1975), which presents four propositions [ideas of fiction] Federman views as imperative to literature; the primary function of Surfiction, Federman summarizes, is to expose the fictionality of reality and of what is perceived to be 'real.'

Coming from a postmodern perspective, Federman and Surfiction attempt to build into the space of nothingness that writers such as Samuel Beckett feel literature has arrived in; a major scholar of Beckett, Federman used his introductory manifesto to open up a collection of essays (entitled, Surfiction: Fiction Now... and Tomorrow) by writers—such as Ronald Sukenick and John Barth (whose Literature of Exhaustion makes an appearance)—that also deal with this postmodern concept of nothingness, and how to not create something out of it, but rather, build something into it.

Key elements of Surfiction involve the materiality of the text and how they can function and be manipulated; Federman refers to this as the shape of literature, and introduces a visuality of the novel by expounding on what he calls the topography of the test—the visual importance and value of typography in both the writing and reading experiences. Also under question is the nature of plot and time, where Surfiction seeks to generate chaos from which writer and reader will together form a semblance of order, rather than attempting to posit a semblance of order in a mere imitation of 'reality'. Federman is most interested in the autonomy in his work, even arguing how reading and interpretations must also bear an autonomous quality; what Federman explains as the autonomy of fiction is that it must never reflect reality, but seek to function as A REALITY. Federman's concept of 'character' are those which cannot be related to, which are, in fact, decidedly nonrelatable and even contradictory, which seek to establish the anti-archetype; more important, however, is Federman's concept of the word-being, the word itself as character, aware of its own fictitious presence/existence, concerned only with the fiction in which it lives.

Federman's four propositions, the Basics:

1. The Reading of Fiction: Federman's critique of the traditional mode of reading as boring and restrictive, advocates the Active Readership of a work and the visuality which can emerge from that consideration. Paginal syntax as opposed to grammatical; the typography and topology of the text. Printed word as the medium.

2. The Shape of Fiction: The non-linear plot and a new fictitious discourse, a constant redoubling on itself, becoming a "metaphor of its own narrative progress...establish[ing] itself as it writes itself."

3. The Material of Fiction: That the act of writing is a process of inventing, on the spot, the material of fiction, and thus "materializes (renders concrete)fiction into words. And as such, there are no limits to the material of fiction." Concept of word-beings, having been materialized.

4. The Meaning of Fiction: To create chaos from which reader [receptor] and writer [creator] will work together (as well as with the participation of characters and narrators) in order to form and grasp meaning, not imitating a semblance of order but presenting itself for order and ordering. Looking at the work only in relation to itself, certain allusions to Adorno's concept of autonomous art. Reader will invent and extract meaning, the writer will intend to provide the necessary elements.

"Just as the Surrealists called that level of man's experience that functions in the subconscious SURREALITY, I call that level of man's activity that reveals life as a fiction SURFICTION." —Raymond Federman

[edit] Links

Raymond Federman's Wikipedia page

Federman's MySpace

short piece on Surfiction